New York, 2 April 2019

RP PT 02_04_2019

Photo: Twitter (@Portugal_UN)

Mr. Chair,

My statement is fully aligned with the one already delivered by the European Union.

I congratulate all delegations, but especially yourself, Mr Chair, and the members of the Bureau, for the adoption of the political declaration.

In 1994, in Cairo, almost 200 countries adopted a people-centered Programme of Action that still serves as a fundamental tool. The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), voiced a forward-looking vision on the relationship between population, development and well-being. The ICPD recognized reproductive health and rights, as well as women's empowerment and gender equality, as cornerstones of population and development programmes.

Since then, millions were lifted out of poverty; and literacy and life expectancy were increased.

Gender equality is now undoubtedly recognized both as a goal in itself, from a Human Rights perspective, but also as a fundamental prerequisite for the success of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. All in all, as a sine qua non condition for development.

However, 25 years after “Cairo”, many are still waiting on the implementation of our commitments. Among others:
• Family planning is a distant reality to many people;
• Millions of girls are still at risk of child marriage;
• Only this year, 3.8 million girls will have undergone female genital mutilation;
• Wealth inequalities (within and across countries) continue to worsen.
And Climate Change is additionally impacting our common action on sustainable development.

The Cairo Programme of Action continues, thus, to serve as a comprehensive guide to people and development policies. Challenges to gender equality, promotion of sexual reproductive health rights, as well as the fight against domestic violence, particularly violence against women, remain strongly relevant.

We need to tackle the Cairo’s “unfinished agenda”. Population must continue to be at the heart of development policies. Achieving sustainable development (SD) and eradication of poverty requires taking into account population dynamics and social, economic and cultural inequalities, including between men and women.

Mr. Chair,

The Strategic Concept of Portuguese Cooperation 2014-2020 (our policy document for development cooperation) highlights gender equality as a cross-cutting area, fundamental to the pursuit of development objectives, the importance of increasing access to and quality of primary health care and the right to sexual and reproductive health, with a focus on reducing child mortality and improving maternal, child and women's health.

We are committed to maintaining and reinforcing both our bilateral actions and partnerships with other actors (such as the UNFPA, with whom we have developed a long, continuing and fruitful relationship), to make the lives of millions of girls and women safer and healthier.

Activities implemented under our Strategy include, among others: supporting local NGOs; training teachers, religious and community leaders and other relevant stakeholders; supporting information campaigns on issues related to human rights and harmful practices; and action to increase the number of girls enrolled in school.

Mr. Chair, to conclude,

Our experience clearly shows that all actors have a role to play, beyond governments and international organizations. Civil society, including the private sector, has an important role to play, by contributing to behavioral change and offering adequate economic opportunities to women.

I thank you.

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